Over the years, the #endcuttinggirls campaign, an initiative of UNICEF to #endFGM has become one of the most successful campaign towards eliminating female genital mutilation.

Good evening everyone and thanks for joining and supporting me on yet another edition of the

Today in Nigeria, the #encuttinggirls campaign has become one of the most successful campaigns that has been fully supported and sustained by UNICEF to eliminate the harmful practice of FGM.

However, despite massive interventions which have been done across practicing and semi-practicing communities with a lot of intervention messages, there is need to use multi-pronged approach to keep driving the change.

According to UNICEF in of the leading publications, It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated.

Unfortunately, it is also estimated at least 3 million girls at the risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

Female Genital Mutilation is general known as FGM and also widely called various local and traditional names according to the community where it is practiced.

FGM comprises all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

FGM is a form of violence which is based on cultural beliefs and gender norms. And girls from very fragile ages up to their mid or late teens are subjected to undergo this form of genital excision

In most communities, FGM is seen as a protection of virginity, a beautification process, and in a number of cultures is regarded as an essential precondition of marriage.

There are different forms of FGM, some of which involve more radical excisions in the genital area than others.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are all practiced in Nigeria.

FGM Type I is defined as the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).

Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

FGM Type II entails the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.

FGM Type III involves the narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

FGM Type IV is also known as unclassified and involves all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

The FGM Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Africa including Nigeria.

FGM has so many consequences including short and long terms consequences ranging from excessive bleeding, trauma, Contraction of infections etc.

In the last decade, UNICEF has supported strategic stakeholders, advocates, stakeholders, government institutions and NGOs to collectively and innovatively work together to eliminate FGM.

So many approaches, methodologies and various levels of advocacy have been deployed but it is important to spread the tentacle of engagement for a wider coverage.

But today, the role or importance of arts and creativity as a contributing factor to achieving major developmental goal cannot be overemphasized.

 Also, we cannot overemphasize the need to introduce new perspectives especially the art industry towards the achievement of a successful campaign where community members can freely take part in the agenda.

The campaign to end female genital mutilation will greatly depend on advocating holistically across all sectors of socio-political and economic development which include Art.

On today’s conversation, I will be focusing on how to leverage utilizing innovative and creative art contests & other platforms in the art industry as a major drivers in campaign to end female genital mutilation.  

  • Art contests can be great tools for engaging and training artists, especially young artist to increase their audience.
  • Art contests can also be a very good teaching tool for other youths and community members to join the campaign.
  • Art contests and other art competitions are some of the crucial ways to engage artists to gain exposure for artwork.  

All kinds of contemporary artworks are allowed in the art contest: drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, graphics etc

In the case of this campaign, it will elevate the artists’ visibility in the art world to craft out innovative messages that can contribute to the achievement of the  agenda.

By engaging young people to showcase their talents in art and other creative skills, we can inform and educate the populace about the harmful effects of FGM.

 Let share a few importance of Art Contests

  • Art is important because it encompasses all the developmental domains in development. Art lends itself to physical development and the enhancement of fine and gross motor skills.
  • Art contests build feelings of independence, confidence and an eagerness to learn.
  • Art contests are a great opportunity for publicity.
  • Art contests can be a great way of bridging cultural awareness and health awareness.
  • Art contests and other competitions are important to motivate & inspire young people to develop their creative skills which are invariably used to convey the appropriate messaging from diverse perspectives.
  • By observing the various dimension of art work from young people, community members will have the opportunity to learn, analyze, evaluate & assimilate the key the messages beyond the art work – painting, drawing, photography etc, thereby making an informed decision to stop FGM.

There are some types of art contests which may include; Painting Competition, Digital Art Competition, Illustration Contest, General Art Contest, Photography, Drawing Club.

Each of the art contests mentioned above have different effect of the people’s capacity to gain a deeper understanding of an issue and also make informed decisions too.

The outcome of Art contests influence the society by changing opinions, instilling values and translating experiences across space and time.

Organizing school level art contests will also play a major role of providing the right information to young people as they are growing up.

Art is very strategic because it allows people from different cultures and different times to communicate with each other via images, sounds and stories.

Art contest can be used as a vehicle for social change especially in the campaign to #endFGM.

It can give voice to the politically or socially disenfranchised. And in most cases, a song, film or novel can rouse emotions in those who encounter it, inspiring them to rally for change.